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This Week In Running: February 24, 2020

There are five weekends in February this year, and that spread limited this weekend’s racing volume. Still, we went to Central America, South America, and New Zealand to pull in highlights from 4 Refugios Nonstop, Fuego y Agua, and the Old Ghost Ultra, and roster list a bunch of trail and ultrarunners ready for next weekend’s U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

4 Refugios Nonstop – Bariloche, Argentina

The 4 Refugios Nonstop adventure run travels point-to-point for 44k with 3,400 meters (11,100 feet) of climb through the mountains above Bariloche, Argentina in the heart of Patagonia.

Men

Local pro Santos Gabriel Rueda won for the fifth-straight year, pushing back against a challenge from world traveler Pere Aurell (Spain). Rueda was a few minutes outside the lead at the first refugio, gapped by a bunch of fast starters, but quickly gained the front thereafter and won in 6:23. Aurell was second in 6:47, and Franco Hernan Oro (Argentina) was third in 7:05.

Women

Ragna Debats (Netherlands, lives in Spain), the other half of the married global-adventuring couple with Aurell, won the women’s race in 8:17. Her win unseated three-time defending champion Tania Diaz Slater (Argentina), who finished second in 8:34. Veronica Ramirez (Argentina) was third in 8:43.

Full results.

Fuego y Agua – Ometepe, Nicarauga

Lake Nicaragua is huge at 3,191 square miles, and Ometepe is its largest island. The figure eight-shaped island has two volcanoes, and that makes the Fuego y Agua group of races hilly and challenging. The races paused in 2019, but before that had a history dating to 2008.

The 100k races started at 2 a.m., but that was probably one of the lesser challenges for the alternate beach and jungle technical run. Michael Versteeg (USA) won in 18:07, and Sandra Mejia (Costa Rica) was the first female in 22:58.

Full results (when available).

Michael Versteeg, 2020 Fuego y Agua champion. Photo: Fuego y Agua

Sandra Mejia, 2020 Fuego y Agua champion. Photo: Fuego y Agua

Additional Races and Runs

Old Ghost Ultra

The 85k (53 miles) Old Ghost Ultra raced in the mountains east of the coastal town of Westport, on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It’s on a point-to-point track that gains 2,700 meters (8,850 feet). Ruth Croft (New Zealand) was the overall winner in 7:31, followed by men’s leader Kunaal Rajpal (New Zealand) in 7:47. Full results.

Lord Hill 50k

The Lord Hill 50k happened at a park of the same name in Snohomish, Washington. Benjamin Rauk and Sara Hong Li led the fields with 4:19 and 5:05 winning times, marks that third and fourth on the race’s all-time chart. Full results.

Redtail Ridge 50k

Matt Deyo and Magdalena Boulet won Inside Trail’s Redtail Ridge 50k in the San Francisco Bay Area’s Lake Chabot Regional Park. The pair went for 3:44 and 4:13 finishes, and Boulet’s time was a new course record. Scott Trummer and Olivia Amber won the 30k race in 2:12 and 2:25. Full results.

Running Up for Air

What started as something small by organizer Jared Campbell in 2012 has blossomed into a multi-event, big-dollar fundraiser for clean-air nonprofits. For 2020, Running Up for Air comprises five running and two climbing events spread across Utah, Colorado, and Montana taking place both this past weekend and the weekend of March 6. The original event, taking place on Friday and Saturday on Grandeur Peak above Salt Lake City, hosted 227 runners across three races, a six hour, 12 hour, and 24 hour. The six-hour race had three start windows to spread out runners over the weekend. The course is laps to the summit, which involves about six miles roundtrip and 2,500 feet of climb. David Mitchell and Katie Brown put in the most miles and vertical for the 24 hours, completing 13 and 11 laps respectively. In the 12-hour race, it was Blaine Benitez and Sarah Lavender Smith who took top honors with seven and five laps respectively. In the six hour, Kyle Richardson and Leah Yingling completed their respective four and three laps the fastest. Full results.

Olde Girdled Grit 50k

Northeast Ohio’s sixth Olde Girdled Grit 50k championed John Brett and Beth Deazeley with 4:20 and 5:48 finish times. Full results.

Frozen Branch 50k

New York’s Frozen Branch 50k was just below typically snowy and cold Buffalo, New York, and that might be part of why there was just 14 finishers. Men’s winner Tristan Baxendale was followed by women’s winner Krissy Moehl with the two running 7:10 and 7:32, respectively. Full results.

U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials – Atlanta, Georgia

Leap Day and the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials only happen every four years, and they both happen on the same day this year. There are 264 men and 512 women qualified for next weekend’s race, and it’ll be on a hilly, multi-loop course that starts and finishes at Centennial Olympic Park.

Just about all of the qualifiers have likely run a trail race or two before, and so some of the inclusions below are a bit stretched, but here’s what we’ve got for names familiar to this column.

Men

  • Tyler Andrews – 2:17 2018 Vermont City Marathon, 1st 2019 Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile
  • Tim Chichester – 2:18 2018 Buffalo Marathon, 2012 U.S. mountain running team
  • Anthony Costales – 2:13 2017 California International Marathon (CIM), 7th 2019 The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships (TNF 50 Mile)
  • David Fuentes – 1:03 2019 Grandma’s Half Marathon, 9th 2019 U.S. Mountain Running Championships
  • Tyler Jermann – 2:13 2019 Houston Marathon, 1st 2017 Caumsett 50k
  • Joe Moore – 2:17 2019 CIM, 1st 2017 Psycho Wyco Run Toto Run 50k
  • Zach Ornelas – 2:17 2018 CIM, 9th 2019 Two Oceans Marathon
  • Patrick Rizzo – 2:17 2017 CIM, 3rd 2016 Leadville Silver Rush 50 Mile
  • David Sinclair – 2:16 2017 CIM, 4th 2019 U.S. Mountain Running Championships
  • Patrick Smyth – 2:13 2019 CIM, 2nd 2018 Chuckanut 50k
  • Andy Wacker – 2:17 2018 Rotterdam Marathon, 4th 2019 XTERRA Trail Run World Championships
  • Jim Walmsley – 1:04 2018 Houston Half Marathon, 1st 2019 Western States 100
  • Cole Watson – 2:18 2018 CIM, 1st 2018 Chuckanut 50k

Full qualifier list.

Women

  • Ladia Albertson-Junkans – 2:41 2018 Silo District Marathon, 2nd 2019 Bandera 100k
  • Deanna Ardrey – 2:39 2018 Chicago Marathon, 5th 2019 U.S. Mountain Running Championships
  • Ashley Brasovan – 2:40 2017 CIM, 16th 2019 World Mountain Running Long Distance Championships
  • Polina Carlson – 2:38 2019 Houston Marathon, 2nd 2019 XTERRA Trail Run World Championships
  • Brittany Charboneau – 2:36 2018 Los Angeles Marathon, 1st 2019 Leadville Heavy Half Marathon
  • Lauren Coury 2:43 2019 CIM, 1st 2018 Zane Grey 50 Mile
  • Rachel Drake – 2:40 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 1st 2018 Moab Trail Marathon
  • Kasie Enman – 2:44 2018 CIM, 2019 Trail World Championships, 2nd 2019 U.S. Mountain Running Championships
  • Kristen Findlay – 2:40 2019 Grandma’s Marathon, 4th 2018 Moab Trail Marathon
  • Brittni Hutton – 2:41 2018 Grandma’s Marathon, 1st 2019 Mt. Washington Road Race
  • Marci Klimek2:34 2018 Chicago Marathon, 1st 2012 Siskiyou Out Back 50k
  • Camelia Mayfield – 2:42 2018 CIM, 2nd 2019 Javelina Jundred
  • Renee Metivier – 2:43 2019 Honolulu Marathon, 1st 2017 Moab Trail Marathon
  • Ellie Pell – 2:41 2019 Hartford Marathon, 3rd 2019 JFK 50 Mile
  • Tara Richardson – 2:42 2018 CIM, 2nd 2019 Caumsett 50k
  • Elizabeth Ryan 2:42 2018 CIM, 3rd 2018 Way Too Cool 50k
  • Bethany Sachtleben – 2:31 2019 Pan Am Games Marathon, 18th 2016 World Mountain Running Championships
  • Caitlin Smith – 2:43 2018 Grandma’s Marathon, 1st 2009 TNF 50 Mile
  • Lindsay Tollefson – 2:43 2017 CIM, 1st 2020 FOURmidable 50k
  • YiOu Wang – 2:39 2018 CIM, 1st 2019 TNF 50 Mile
  • Devon Yanko – 2:39 2019 Houston Marathon, 1st 2019 Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile

Full qualifier list.

Call for Comments

I’ll be celebrating a two-year-old’s birthday, but for the rest of ya’, the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials will be televised live in NBC at 12:00 U.S. EST on Saturday, February 29. Do you plan to watch, and if not any of the above, who are you hoping to best see do well?

Justin Mock: is a family man, finance man, and former competitive runner. He gave his 20s to running, and ran as fast as 2:29 for the marathon and finished as high as fourth at the Pikes Peak Marathon. His running is now most happy with his two dogs on the trails and peaks near his home west of Denver.

View Comments (6)

  • Hey! I’m Ellie Pell, 2:41:52 at the Hartford Marathon in 2019
    3rd JFK 50 Mile
    3rd Cayuga Trails 50 Mile

    I can’t wait to meet all the other ladies!

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  • Great lineup of women trail runners headed to the Trials! I will be rooting for many of them. I'd also mention Brittany Charboneau. She's got a neat back story about being a comedian/improv actress. She's run a couple of trail races and done very well, and I predict she'll graduate to ultras and do well at ultra distances too. https://trailrunnermag.com/people/funny-runner-brittany-charboneau-overcomes-fears-to-find-fun-and-success-in-trail-running.html

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  • Thanks Ellie, good luck!

    Brittany C has had some press here in Denver a few times, was just on the local news last week too.

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  • Austin Bogina 2:50:55 at Caumsett, 2nd to Ornelas by a few seconds after leading much of the race. 2:16 marathoner, will be running the trials too.

    Three time Comrades winner Bongmusa Mthembu won the Capital City Marathon with just under 1,500' of elevation gain (similar loss) in South Africa in 2:20:44. The race was formerly the Maritzburg Marathon, but on different course, so hard to know any significant time conversion from afar.

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  • I feel like having a (pending) world record is slightly more relevant than Tussey Mountainback, even if the record is on a track.

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  • Not for nothing, Walmsley is ranked 245th on the list, or 9th among those who qualified on a half-marathon time.

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